Thinking about writing a book while you’re on lockdown? It should be easy. You’ve got the time, after all.
Unfortunately, when you sit down to write, your mind goes blank. After ten or 20 minutes of staring at the computer screen and hating yourself, you get up and turn on the TV.
In an online meeting of our writers’ group, writers reported this phenomenon. One said: “I thought I’d rewrite my NaNoWriMo novel, but I got bored. So, I decided to start a new novel. I couldn’t do it! Not an idea in my head.”
Writing a book: how to get words onto the computer screen
A veteran author suggested that the problem could be high expectations. We’re not happy with the words we write. We want them to be great words.
She says that when she sits down to write, she’s happy with anything she can get onto the screen. “I don’t care about writing well. Words are all I want. Be happy with whatever you produce.”
Here are some ways to get started writing a book.
1. Start with a brainstorm: create a mind map to help
Let’s say that you’re writing a mystery. Mysteries involve a murder, various suspects, and the main character, a sleuth.
Try a brainstorming mind map. Use “mystery” as the central topic. Add “victim”, “sleuth”, and “suspects” as child topics and start brainstorming.
Before you know it, your mind map will be crowded. Next, try using brain dumps:
When you do a brain dump, you’re not aiming for solutions. You’re just aiming to look at what’s in your mind.
Try taking a subtopic of your mind map, like “sleuth”, and do a brain dump.
After you’ve done several brain dumps on your topics, you’ll have lots of material, and you can start writing.
Next, aim to form a routine: a writing-a-book routine.
2. Build a routine to write each day
I love Scrivener for many reasons, especially because it allows you to set word count goals. Let’s say you’re aiming for 60,000 words for a novel. If you wrote 1,000 words a day, you’d complete the novel in two months. Or, if your goal was 500 words a day, in four months.
Set any word count goal you like — just 50 or 100 words, initially.
You can brainstorm right in Scrivener:
… the most useful mode for brainstorming ideas is Cork Board group mode. You can create as many index cards as you like.
3. Remember to keep your expectations low
Focus on getting words onto the screen, rather than writing a book. Before you know it, you’ll be done: your book will be finished.
Big tip: at this stage, your book will be ROUGH. No worries, because now it’s time to start editing.
Did you know that Scrivener makes editing your book easier? Try using Collections:
I find that Scrivener Collections make editing a breeze. I use it for big picture editing, as well as minor edits. I’d even go as far as to say that Scrivener Collections are the reason I LOVE editing.
Writing a book: baby steps
For most authors (even authors who’ve written books before) starting a new book is intimidating.
It’s vital to avoid telling yourself that you’re “writing a book”. If you do, chances are you’ll feel overwhelmed. Instead, focus on getting your daily words onto the screen—any words.
Try these tips, and good luck. 🙂
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